Singapore Denies Gay Group Permit to Meet
Thursday, 25 May 2000
SINGAPORE — Authorities in Singapore have turned down a request for
a public forum forwarded by a fledging gay and lesbian group ,
saying it would “legitimize practices considered unlawful” in the
city-state, the South China Morning Post reports.
In a statement, authorities were quoted as saying they “cannot allow
the holding of this public forum, which will advance and legitimize
the cause of homosexuals in Singapore.” The gathering would have been
the first of its kind in Singapore.
Alex Au, who is becoming the most prominent spokesman on gay and
lesbian rights issues in Singapore, made the request of police in
early May, “It’s a tip-toe into the water, so to speak, because this
will be the first time anyone knows of where we will apply for
a public entertainment license for an event with gay and esbian writ
large in the theme,” he said at the time.
All public gatherings of more than eight people require a police
license and authorities in Singapore are under no obligation to
explain their reasons for denying applications. All attempts made
since 1993 to register gay and lesbian organizations in Singapore
have been rejected.
“Mainstream moral values of Singaporeans
Police quoted Singapore’s Penal Code which deems consensual
sexual relations between adult members of the same sex “unnatural,”
punishable by a fine and a sentence of life imprisonment. Any male
abetting or procuring “an act of gross indecency” with another man
can also be jailed for up to two years.
“The mainstream moral values of Singaporeans are conservative,”
the police statement said.
Au, in a provocation to a government that has a low tolerance for
dissent or criticism said on Wednesday, “It seems that civil society
can only operate within the narrow confines of what the authorities
deem to be the public interest.”
Au’s criticisms were echoed by Dana Lam, president of the
Association of Women for Action and Research. She said the statement
by authorities “makes the environment sound very hostile to the gay
segment of the population.”
Said Lam: “If we can deny people their right to an open forum, if
we can threaten imprisonment to their face for what is essentially a
private act, what will we do next?”
This article was first archived by Davestar on SiGNEL: